There is a bit of confusion about these two plants. For some reason,the fennel plant, which resembles celery with fern like tops, has been called sweet anise in produce markets. The true anise is cultivated only for its seeds. So what you see labelled "sweet anise" in your market is probably fennel, but no matter what you call it, this is a highly interesting vegetable. Every part of this aromatic plant has a taste and aroma similar to licorice. The stems are eaten like celery,uncook, or cooked and served as a vegetable (heavenly with apples in waldorf salad) Available from September to May. HOW TO CHOOSE AND STORE: Choose fennel the same way you do celery, with crisp stalks and fresh leaves. Wash and store in vegetable crisper or plastic bag in refrigerator. BASIC PREPARATION: Trim the ferny tops and remove tough outer stalks. Cut off heavy base. Slice the stalks in thin lengthwise strips. Wash,drain and cook in boiling, salted water or bouillon until just tender,15-20 minutes. Drain and add melted butter, salt and pepper and serve.